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Learning Game Design: as a job or a hobby

Course Summary

The process of specifying and modifying the way the game plays: not programming, art, marketing, licensing, sound, etc.

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    Course Syllabus

    • How This Course Works
      • What you'll discover
      • Introducing the Teacher
      • Interaction
      • Assessment
      • Game Design is Education, not Rote Learning
      • Course Length - Depends on How Long Your Game Takes
      • Student entry survey - 10 questions, voluntary
      • The Main Assignment
      • Supplemental books and other materials
    • What game design is - and is not
      • Yes, there are fundamental things to know to be a game designer
      • Definitions
      • Six Words about what a Game Designer Is/Does
      • Stay Behind the Curtain
      • Is game design about "mind control"?
      • Monopoly Exercise
      • The fundamental difference is NOT video versus tabletop
      • Make Money? Maybe. Get Rich? Most Unlikely.
      • Dreamers
      • Typical Illusions of Aspiring Game Designers
      • Reasons to Design Games
      • Is it really work?! Fun as a hobby, work when it involves trying to make money
      • Meaningfulness?
      • My take on Monopoly's problems
    • The best ways to learn (other than this course!)
      • Your Goal: COMPLETE Games
      • The Quickest Way to Learn Game Design
      • Gamemaker and other game engines
      • Gamemaker demo
      • Creating Levels and Making Mods
      • Traditional Games are NOT a Good Guide
      • A Monopoly "solution"
      • When you first do any complicated thing, you won't be good at it
      • Formal Education (a degree?)
      • Play Lots of Games? Maybe.
      • Self-assessment: Definitions and the Best Ways to Learn
    • Getting Started
      • An Exercise in Awareness
      • The Idea is NOT the Game - Part 1
      • The Idea is NOT the Game - Part 2
      • Innovation is Highly Overrated
      • Origins of Games
      • Making Your Very First Game
      • Using Someone Else's Intellectual Property? Avoid it!
      • Games, Puzzles, and Contests
      • "Atoms" and "Game Loops"
      • Games Need Simplicity, Puzzles May Benefit from Complexity
      • Quotations related to game design
      • The System and the Psychological
      • Three Kinds of Games: Math, People, Story
      • "Rules emergent" versus "Progressive"
      • Avoiding player elimination
      • Protecting Your Intellectual Property?
      • Designer Diary: Dragon Rage tabletop game
      • Example of additional voice notes for tabletop War of the Roses game
      • Example of initial voice notes for tabletop War in the Abyss game
      • Example of initial notes for fleet battle game resembling Spelljammer battles
      • Where are you with your game design? (1)
      • Self-assessment: Getting Started
    • The Process of Design
      • Stratego Exercise Introduction
      • Talent versus Technique
      • The Artisan, the Engineer, and the Mimic
      • Game Design Documents and Problems
      • Mind-mapping example
      • Game Concepts, Treatments, and other Marketing Documents
      • Sample Video Game High Concept: Fury of the Northmen
      • Sample Video Game High Concept: Dragons Rage
      • Models, Abstractions, Simulations
      • The Nine Structures of any Game
      • Some Essential Questions
      • Chess Exercise
      • Systems Analysis of the Design Process
      • Other views of the process
      • Phases, three acts, or five, or nine, or Hero's journey
      • Research
      • No Room for Perfectionism - a Game is Never Really "Done"
      • Conceiving a new game
    • What Makes a Game Good?
      • Stratego: Good and Bad
      • What is the Player Going to DO?
      • The Target Audience
      • Kinds of Fun
      • Varying Aims of Designers - not Just "Fun"
      • The Role of Story
      • Theme and Atmosphere
      • Pacing
      • World Building and "Realism"
      • Evaluating Game Qualities
      • Symmetry and Asymmetry
      • The Evolution of Video Games Part 1
      • The Evolution of Video Games Part 2
      • The Evolution of Tabletop Games
      • The evolution of video games more than a year later
      • 21st Century Game Characteristics
      • All I needed to know about game design I learned from Dungeons & Dragons
      • Risk Exercise
      • Self-assessment: the design process and what makes a game good
      • Where are you with your game design (2)
    • Making a Playable Prototype
      • Making a Paper Prototype
      • Making a Software Prototype
      • Some examples of prototype construction
      • Characteristics of Boards
      • Example of a mapping program - Campaign Cartographer
      • My take on the problems with Risk
      • Game Interfaces
      • Feedback to the Player
      • An example of interface improvement in a tabletop prototype
      • Some Risk exercise "solutions"
      • Are you ready to make your prototype?
    • Playtesting: the Heart of Game Design
      • What Playtesting is NOT!
      • The Process of Playtesting and Modification
      • Stages of Playtesting
      • Have you playtested your prototype solo?
      • What to Watch for in a Playtest Session - Part I
      • What to Watch for in a Playtest Session - Part II
      • Kinds of Playtesters
      • What to do with the Feedback
      • Emergent behavior and Playtesting
      • Game Balance
      • Self-assessment: making a prototype and playtesting
    • Other considerations
      • How are Level Design and Game Design Related?
      • Marketing, Licensing. Agents, Consultants, Funding, Publishing
      • Marketing Yourself
      • Hits, Virality, and "fan" Toxicity in video games
      • Free-to-play Games
      • Six different goals for commercial games
      • "Discoverability"
      • Fallacies You Won't Want to Fall Into
      • Legislating against behavior as opposed to changing the gameplay
    • Conclusion
      • My "upgrades" to Stratego
      • Organized Practice
      • Your Game Design Portfolio
      • Coping with Destructive Criticism
      • One page "what's important in game design"
      • Maxims of Game Design
      • Where are you with your game design (3)
      • Conclusion
      • Are you a game designer or a fiction writer?
      • "Platforms"
      • Monetization of F2P Games
      • Mobile Games
      • A trend in games: Avatars
      • Gamification (Really, Scorification)
      • Why Roguelike games are making a comeback
      • Nearly 500 slides used in the screencasts, downloadable
      • Student Completion Survey (voluntary, not anonymous)
      • Self-assessment 5
      • Log of major additions to the class
    • Bonus Material
      • "A tax on people who are bad at math"
      • Why I wrote my game design book
      • Results of a game designer survey from late 2012
      • Introduction to other Bonus Material
      • Origins 2007 Process of Designing a Game
      • Origins 2011: Business of Game Design
      • Origins 2011 slides: Business of Game Design
      • Origins 2011: Starting a Game Design
      • Origins 2011 slides: Starting a Game Design
      • Origins 2011: Completing a Game Design
      • Origins 2011 slides: Completing a Game Design
      • UK Game Expo 2011: Of course you can design a game, can you design a good one?
      • Origins 2011 slides: Of course you can design a game, but can you design a good
      • East Coast Game Conference 2012 - Managing Frustration
      • ECGC 2012 Slides - Managing Frustration
      • ECGC 2010: What Video Gm developers can learn from 50 years of tabletop develop
      • ECGC 2010 slides: What VG developers can learn from 50 years of tabletop develop
      • What makes my game design book unusual or unique
      • World Boardgaming Championships Annual Game Design talk 2013
      • Example of designer helping potential players (tabletop): Britannia
      • Origins 2008 Breaking into the Tabletop Game Industry
      • Strategic Wargame Design, talk at PrezCon 2014 (Charlottesville, VA)
      • Lew's Games, as of October 2014

Course Fee:
USD 59

Course Type:


Course Status:



1 - 4 hours / week

This course is listed under Development & Implementations and Operating Systems Community

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